Zombie 4: After Death (1988)
Directed by Claudio Fragasso

Starring Candice Daly Don Wilson Jeff Stryker Jim Gaines Massimo Vanni

With a face getting ripped off by a possessed living-dead voodoo bitch in its opening five minutes, "Zombie 4" is definitely an Italian horror film that knows what it's up to. Obviously taking its cue from the super-successful 1985 Italian horror gem "Demons" -- both with its Goblin-like music and fang-toothed living dead zombies that levitate -- "Zombie 4" (also known as "After Death") is fun late 1980s schlock from Italy. There's even talk of a "Book of the Dead" in the story, which has a woman returning to a tropical island where both of her parents were killed by the undead when she was just a child. Before they were wiped out, they gave her some kind of supernatural charm to protect her. All hell naturally breaks loose when she and some mercenaries take a boat to the island, and find themselves stranded there after an accident.

Unlike "Zombi 3," "After Death" gets back to some of the roots of Lucio Fulci's original. The living dead can only be exterminated with a gun shot to the head. They've been resurrected via the supernatural, not some toxic spill. The film is set somewhere tropical. The only thing else it needed was Tisa Farrow or Ian McCulloch in the cast to make it a real classic. Although not as bloody and disgusting as "Zombie Holocaust," "Zombie 4" at least doesn't back off the gore like "Resident Evil" did. It is an unrated movie, after all. But zombies that jump around and run are never as interesting as the ones that just walk. "Zombie 4" seems to be taking a little too much inspiration from Bava's "Demons" films. Still, it's a solid horror entry. Unlike so many other spaghetti gore films, it isn't too talky. There's lots of gunslining, no shortage of the walking (and in this case talking) dead, and the make-up isn't that horrible. There are even multiple head explosions, and an ending that does not compromise. Not bad.

All in all, this is a major step up from the awful "Zombi 3," and is way better than those other widely distributed Italian living dead films, "Hell of the Living Dead" and "Nightmare City." Not as unintentionally hilarious or over-the-top disgusting as "Zombie Holocaust" or "Burial Ground" either, "Zombie 4" is nonetheless a very solid Living Dead film -- very gory and very entertaining. It was splendidly remastered and restored in 2002 by Shriek Show for an awesome DVD release. Recommended.

Director Claudio Fragasso also made "Monster Dog" with Alice Cooper in 1984 and wrote Bruno Mattei's "Rats."

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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